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About Anne Hathaway's Cottage

Learn more about the home of Shakespeare's wife and her family

Located a mile and a half outside of Stratford-upon-Avon in Shottery, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage is a thatched house nestled in an idyllic cottage garden. The building was the childhood home of William Shakespeare’s wife, Anne Hathaway. She was born there sometime around 1556 and it is assumed she stayed there until her marriage to Shakespeare in 1582.

One of the oldest buildings held by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust, the felled timber in Anne Hathaway’s Cottage’s cruck frame dates back to 1463. Since that date, thirteen generations of Hathaways (over 368 years) have lived there, and the surrounding land was used as a working farm until well into the nineteenth century. 

What is now known as Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was not named as such until the turn of the nineteenth century.  After the success of the Garrick Jubilee in 1769, hordes of adoring fans descended on Warwickshire to seek out the places associated with Shakespeare’s private life. The Cottage became famous for its romantic connection with Shakespeare and its idealistic appearance. The name itself is a misnomer though, as the house was never a ‘cottage’ (it’s technically too big). While Anne lived there, and the generations of her sheep farming relations thereafter, the ‘cottage’ was actually a farmhouse for the substantial Hewlands Farm estate.

A direct railway between London and Birmingham in 1826 made travel to Stratford, and subsequently to the Hathaway Cottage, much easier. That year marked a significant and steady increase in visitors to the cottage.

An illustration of c.1847 showing the white cottage, the far section higher than the rest, with thatched roof through which dormer windows are punctured. There is an outbuilding, gabled roof with a lower shed with a sloping roof attached to it, in front of the cottage near the road. On the road sheep are passing.

Anne Hathaway’s Cottage was one of the earliest properties purchased by the Trust, acquired in 1892. The gardens surrounding it were designed by famous horticulturist Ellen Willmott soon after the acquisition of the property. Her designs sought to compliment the Cottage’s picturesque aesthetic as well as pay homage to Shakespeare’s works.

Despite the Trust buying the house in 1892, the Hathaway family remained tenant-custodians until 1911. Due to the house staying in the same family for so long and the Hathaways still living there when the Trust took over, Anne Hathaway’s Cottage boasts some of the oldest and most original parts of the Trust’s collections. This included what has become known as the ‘Hathaway Bed’, ‘Shakespeare Courting Chair’ (where Shakespeare allegedly wooed Anne before their marriage), as well as the ‘Courting Settle’ (another site of supposed wooing and an integral part of the Hathaway family story of the cottage).

The illustration shows the fireplace (with a large fire) and a long mantel shelf with two plates on it. To the left of the fire sits a lady in white, reading, in front of a carved corner-cupboard. On the stone floor (slightly lower than the stone hearth) is a high-backed wooden settle, and there is a low four-legged stool on the floor in front of it.

Here's an interactive timeline of the significant moments in the history of the Anne Hathaway Cottage: 

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